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Gov. Dan McKee signs iGaming into law in Rhode Island

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Rhode Island became the seventh US state to legalize iGaming on Thursday after Gov. Dan McKee signed the long-awaited iGaming bill.

Senate Bill 948 was approved by the state’s Senate and House committees last Thursday and sent to Gov. McKee’s desk. The deadline for signing or vetoing the bill was set for June 23, which the governor met, with hours to spare.

The measure, which was requested by Bally’s Corporation, will allow gambling operators to offer online slots and table games in Rhode Island from April 2014.

The bill outlines how the Rhode Island iGaming industry is expected to operate and the potential economic benefits that the state will receive as a result of the industry.

According to the bill, mobile sports betting in Rhode Island is limited to individuals aged 21 years or older which aligns with the laws for land-based venues.

Dominick J Ruggerio, SB 948’s sponsor, and president of the senate, stated that the bill would provide Rhode Island residents with a more convenient means of playing their choice of casino games.

“This legislation provides an added convenience to Rhode Islanders who would like to play the existing table games offered at Twin River via their mobile devices,” Ruggerio said.

“This is a focused version of igaming that is ready for implementation. This igaming legislation is constitutional, is geared to mature users, contains education provisions for problem gamblers and preserves the revenue allocation percentages as they are currently in place.”

Under the measure, online slot revenue will be taxed at 50%, which is significantly higher than the 18% tax rate imposed on land-based venues. Online table games, on the other hand, were given an 18% revenue tax.

The Rhode Island Lottery Commission was assigned as the regulatory body of the state’s iGaming sector. The commission is currently in charge of the land-based casinos in the state.

Per the provisions of the bill, the commission is allowed to create “reasonable” rules and regulations for iGaming in the state. The authority can also implement player safeguards such as geolocation requirements and minimum age restrictions which ensures that there are sufficient player protection measures to shield gamblers.

The Rhode Island Lottery Commission’s RI Division was likewise given the authority to collaborate with other state regulators, to allow state residents to place bets online even when outside Rhode Island.

SB 948 extends Bally’s Corporation’s monopoly over casinos in Rhode Island to the online scene. In 2021, the gambling operator and its IGT gaming supplier signed a 20-year no-bid contract with the state.

Per the details of the contract, Bally’s was granted an undisputed monopoly of the gambling market and will run the two land-based casinos in Rhode Island until the contract expires in 2043. The casinos include Bally’s Twin Rivers Lincoln Casino Resort and Bally’s Tiverton Casino & Hotel.

The newly signed measure will likely allow Bally’s online subsidiary, Gamesys to be the sole digital gaming operator in the state.

Besides Rhode Island, the only US states that have legalized iGaming include Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Michigan. Online gambling is expected to bring multiple benefits to the state such as increased revenue, enhanced customer protection, and job creation.

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